Stopping Tobacco: Handling Weight Gain after You’ve Quit

February 22, 2019
Stopping Tobacco: Handling Weight Gain after You’ve Quit

Many people put off quitting smoking because they’re worried about weight gain. Many smokers do gain some weight after they quit--but it’s still better to quit as soon as possible.

Once you do quit smoking, you can start to form healthy habits for exercise, nutrition, and—if needed—weight loss. Here are some tips:

  • Control your appetite. Smoking makes you feel less hungry. When you quit, you might feel hungrier and eat more than you used to. 
    • Portion control can help prevent overeating.
    • Staying hydrated will keep you from eating when you’re really only thirsty.
  • Get regular exercise. Smoking increases your metabolism, so you burn more calories. When you stop smoking, you may burn fewer, which can lead to weight gain. Regular exercise can help burn those calories. Just 10 minutes a day can make a difference. 
  • Eat mindfully. Some people replace smoking with eating. Mindful eating means preparing, choosing, and eating with awareness. Here are some tips for eating healthy and enjoying your food more:
    • Avoid distractions. Turn off the phone, TV and computer.
    • Eat at your dinner table so you can focus on eating.
    • Be careful about portion sizes. Think about starting with a smaller portion.
    • Don’t serve family style. If you have to get up from the table for seconds, you might decide to skip it. 
    • Wait 10 minutes before having a second helping. You might not want it after all.
    • Do a belly check. Are you really hungry—or eating for some other reason?
  • Learn new ways to cope with emotions. When you stop smoking, you may want to turn to eating when you feel bad or life is stressful. But you can learn other ways to cope.

More Resources

Learn more about the effect of nicotine on your body and get more tips and tools for quitting at*

*Provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.

For one-on-one coaching or to enroll in our QCARE Kick the Nic! stopping tobacco use program, call 800.235.7111 or 501.228.7111 and ask to speak to a Care Manager.

Health plans vary. Check with your employer or plan administrator to see if QCARE is included.